8 October 2012

Raining millions to NBI researchers

Six researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute, Kim Lefmann, Klaus Galsgaard, Uffe Gråe Jørgensen, Poul Henrik Damgaard, Jan W. Thomsen and Peter Lodahl have received 3-year grants from the Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation, FNU.

Jan W. Thomsen

Jan W. Thomsen, Research Associate Professor in Ultra Cold Atoms and Quantum Optics has received 3.6 million kroner for research into atomic clocks.

In the experiment, strontium atoms are trapped in a so-called magneto-optical trap, where they are cooled down to a temperature of a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero. Light and optical cavities are used to create unique quantum effects, where all of the atoms behave like a single atom and emit light at a certain frequency at the same time. The frequency is extremely stable and will be the most stable laser in the world, equivalent to a clock that loses less than a second over the entire lifespan of the Universe! Applications are aimed at GPS, navigation in space and testing fundamental physics. The grant will mean 1-2 new PhD positions.

Peter Lodahl

Peter Lodahl, Professor in Quantum Photonics has been granted 5.7 million kroner for research into new quantum technologies, where exotic quantum phenomena are exploited in experiments with solids.

The research involves producing membranes of semiconductor materials with nanoscopic light sources, so-called quantum dots, placed in the material. By controlling the coupling between the quantum dots and the thermal motion of the membrane, they will try to improve the quantum mechanical properties of the emitted light. This can be used to connect the mechanical motion of membranes to the most fundamental constituent of light (a photon) and ultimately to observe mechanical motion that is limited only by quantum fluctuations. The project also includes theoretical studies of the interaction between photons and mechanical membranes in collaboration with Professor Anders S. Sørensen’s group. The research may enable constructing new quantum light sources for quantum information technology. The grant will fund 2 new postdoctoral positions and 1 PhD position.

Kim Lefmann

Kim Lefmann, Associate Professor in Neutron and X-Ray Scattering has been granted 1.9 million kroner.

It is for a joint chemistry/physics project, which received a total of 5.6 million kroner. Chemist Jesper Bendix is main applicant and had the idea for the project, which aims to investigate some entirely new magnetic molecules and materials.In general, magnetism stems from metal ions such as iron or manganese, where often oxygen ions binds the material together and mediates the magnetism. In the new materials, the oxygen is replaced with fluorine and this creates brand new properties. The physicists will now measure the materials in a new, giant magnet, where they will also cool the materials and molecules down to extremely low temperatures. The material has potential e.g. for data storage. The project will mean 3 new PhD positions.

Klaus Galsgaard

Klaus Galsgaard, Research Associate Professor in Astrophysics and Planetary Science has received 1.3 million kroner for advanced modelling of the phenomena that take place on the Sun.

Solar storms are caused by powerful explosive activity in the Sun’s magnetic field. In this project, he will use observations of magnetic fields on the surface of the Sun and, using advanced 3D computer modelling, will investigate why some magnetic fields become unstable and make so-called flares. Flares are powerful explosive ejections of magnetic energy that often simultaneously fling a great 'plasmas cloud' into space. Northern lights often form when Earth is hit by such solar storms, while really powerful solar storms may also cause disrupt the electrical grid. The project will research what conditions required for the Sun's magnetic field to release the stored energy, explosively. The grant will, among other things, be used to upgrade equipment, like powerful computers, and for research-related travel and workshops.

Uffe Gråe Jørgensen

Uffe Gråe Jørgensen, Research Associate Professor in Astrophysics and Planetary Science has been granted 1.7 million kroner to search for exoplanets using the microlensing method, which reveals the existence of planets by observing how the light from bright background stars is bent during their transit across the sky.

Uffe Gråe Jørgensen is leading a large international team of 30 astronomers working on the project. The method is particularly well suited for finding planets like those in our own solar system. The research is conducted with the Danish 1½ meter telescope in Chile and the funding will be used to work on the project for 3 years.


Poul Henrik Damgaard

Poul Henrik Damgaard, Professor in Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology has received 1 million kroner to investigate new developments in theoretical physics and astrophysics.

Focus will be on calculations for the experiments at the LHC accelerator of CERN, computer simulations of accretion discs around, for example, newly formed stars and quasars, complex systems with turbulence, studies of ultra-cold atoms as well as theoretical cosmology and quantum field theory – all within the framework of the Niels Bohr International Academy. The grant will cover expenses for a series of workshops and PhD schools, visiting scientists and computer equipment.